Discount Offered for NYTimes Online
University faculty, staff and students will soon be able to purchase a digital subscription to The New York Times website at a 75 percent discounted rate through The New York Times Readership program. The readership program, which distributes 400 copies of The Times on campus every weekday, will be fully funded through the 2011-2012 academic year. However, according to Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Vice President Ben Firke ’12, there is a chance that the number of newspapers distributed will be cut in half for the following school year if new donors are not secured.
The College Readership Digital Subscription is a new service The Times is offering to college campuses in concert with the introduction of their digital paywall in March. The 75 percent discount—which lowers the monthly digital subscription cost from $15 to $3.75—will be available to anyone with a Wesleyan email address.
“We believe having a digital component available to faculty and students is an enhancement to the print newspaper, and in many ways they are different products,” wrote New York Times National Education Director Kevin Cappallo in an email to The Argus. “The Times in print offers an immersive news experience that is easily portable in its full form. NYTimes.com enhances The Times’s news, information and opinion with countless multimedia features, including blogs, interactive graphics, videos, slide shows and podcasts, which bring the news to life.”
Cappallo noted that The Times is pleased with the number of new online subscriptions since mid-March. Firke, who is in charge of the readership program on campus, is hopeful that many students and faculty will start using this discounted rate.
“I hope hundreds of students do this—it’s a steal,” he said. “I would encourage faculty and staff to get this discounted rate, and encourage everyone to take advantage of the perks of the program while we still have them.”
The program also brings NY Times speakers such as Roger Cohen and A.O. Scott to campus for no additional cost. The program also offers faculty and students individual subscriptions at a discounted $.50 per day rate, Monday through Friday.
“The fundamental purpose of our college program is to support the thousands of faculty members across the broad spectrum of curriculum who use The New York Times as a supplement to their required or recommended readings in their courses,” Cappallo wrote.
The program costs the University $25,000 per year. The WSA contributes $15,000 of funding while an anonymous donor is currently contributing the remaining $10,000. The donor’s child is graduating this year and the donor declined to continue sponsoring the program after the end of the next school year.
“We’re in the process of letting people know that this program is very valuable, and it’s in danger of being significantly reduced after next year,” Firke said. “We’re trying to work now to find departments on campus [to sponsor the program], whether they’re academic departments, admissions, University relations, or the provost’s office.”
Firke has been reaching out to departments in seeking a more long-term sponsor for the program, and has also suggested soliciting smaller amounts from different departments that will add up to the $10,000 needed to continue running the program at the same level.
“It’s a feasible option, if we can’t get $10,000 from one donor, that we could probably roll together a couple of smaller gifts,” he said.
If the WSA cannot secure the additional funding, Firke believes they will have to cut the program in half, from 400 to 200 newspapers a day. WSA Representative Andrew Trexler ’14, who delivers the newspapers to their locations each morning, noted that most of the 400 papers are usually gone by the end of each day.
“There’s less than 25 papers left almost always, and usually there’s less than 10,” he said. “It’s a pretty high rate [of people taking papers].”
However, Professor of Government Marc Eisner expressed doubt about how many students actually took advantage of the free copies of the paper.
“[The Times] provides an important and informed source of information about most aspects of domestic and international politics,” he wrote in an email to The Argus. “By the stacks of unread papers sitting in the PAC at the end of the day, I assume that far fewer students read The Times than one might imagine.”
Trexler said that many students take copies of the paper but then put them back when they are finished reading them.
“I get the impression that most people do know where they are, a lot of people take a copy and then put it back,” he said. “There’s some students who take one every day and people also take them as a matter of convenience, like if they’re sitting in line somewhere.”
Cappallo believes that the introduction of the digital subscription will not undermine the readership program. He believes that it might even increase the number of colleges using the program.
“I am not aware of any campuses canceling their readership programs due to the availability of our digital products,” he wrote. “If a campus decided to cut back or eliminate their readership program, it would reduce or eliminate the discount we are offering for the digital subscription. I have received inquiries from some campuses about bringing a new readership program to their campus so that students, faculty and staff can take advantage of the digital subscription.”
The WSA plans to announce the details of the discounted digital subscription in the coming months.